The Yale Police Department, which has been in need of a larger headquarters as it has grown throughout the past decade, has finally moved to a new home.
YPD Lt. Michael Patten said Thursday that the department has completed the transition from its old headquarters on 100 Sachem St. to its new location at the Rose Center, located on Ashmun Street behind Swing Space in the heart of the Dixwell neighborhood. All YPD services, including dispatchers, are now housed in the Rose Center as well.
The Rose Center, situated in the middle of the Dixwell neighborhood, is also home to the Dixwell-Yale University Community Learning Center, an initiative meant to provide educational programs for Dixwell residents and to strengthen the social and economic conditions of the neighborhood.
Yale Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said the Rose Center was built to alleviate the overcrowding the YPD faced at its previous headquarters, a building she said desperately needed an upgrade.
“We have highly trained officers and state-of-the-art equipment, but they [had] been working out of a building that was constructed in the late 1800s,” Highsmith said. “There [were] no locker rooms for female officers and inadequate space for [male] officers.”
The path leading to the construction of the Rose Center was not entirely smooth. Although the University had been considering purchasing the property the Rose Center currently occupies for years, Reggie Solomon ’98, program director for the Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said Dixwell leaders were originally opposed to the idea.
“The community [was] looking to develop the site into a job training center,” Solomon said. “They tried to get the money together to do something like that and asked Yale not to exercise their option to buy the property.”
But Solomon said city officials had plans of their own. The city economic development administrator at the time, he said, was trying to convince an asbestos removal company to buy the land. Concerned about the possible impact the company’s presence in the area would have on the community, Dixwell community leaders then began urging Yale to purchase the land instead.
“The same group that told Yale ‘Don’t buy the land’ then came back and asked Yale to buy the land,” he said. “I don’t think anyone wants asbestos removal trucks coming into their community at all hours of the night.”
Now that the YPD is finally settled, Patten said the new headquarters has been well received by the department.
Unlike the previous headquarters, which he called cramped and antiquated, Patten said the Rose Center is able to provide spacious accommodations for officers, while at the same time creating a welcoming feeling.
“It’s not a typical police building,” he said. “It’s not like a fortress or a bunker; it was meant to be a welcome place.”
Unlike Yale’s Gothic stone buildings, the Rose Center has glass walls, a feature Highsmith said was incorporated as a conscious decision on the part of the building’s architects and was meant to highlight the center’s openness to the community.
Solomon said the new building’s learning center, which will open Jan. 24, will include homework help for young children, income tax classes, and classes for senior citizens. The center will also be equipped with computing clusters open to the community and conference rooms in which New Haven residents can meet, he said.
“It’s going to be a full-service community learning center for the Dixwell neighborhood,” Solomon said.
The learning center will host an open house Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. to introduce local residents to the center’s services.